5 More Writing Tips to Help You Finish That Draft
If you’re anything like me, you have a love-hate relationship with writing. One on hand, when inspiration strikes and your fingers cannot stop moving against the keyboard, it feels magical. You are on top of the world and all of the pieces are falling into place. You’re actually doing it! But on the other hand, writer’s block is a serious dilemma. It’s made me second-guess myself millions of times, and it’s made me not work on projects for long periods of time, or it’s made me stall projects because I can’t write anything. If it’s happened to me, I am willing to bet all of my life savings – which is not much given I’m a college student – on the reality that it happens to every writer. Honestly, it’s one of the many downsides of being a writer. But, have no fear, because I have decided to compile a list of 5 writing tips that help me move through my writer’s block. If these help me, I’m sure that some will be able you. These can work for all genres of writing, and these will also help get some creative juices flowing.
- Jump around from scene to scene
Writer’s block usually hits me when I have to focus on scenes that I am not particularly interested in. I know that most people will tell you that writing a story has to be in order, but I’m here to debunk that method because I’ve found that doing the exact opposite helps me the most when I am deep into my writer’s block. For me, some scenes in my stories come vividly to me. The setting, the dialogue, the expressions, the feelings, all of it will hit me like a ton of bricks and stick in my mind the way gum sticks to the back of a shoe. However, and this is always the case, those scenes are further along in the story outline. This has always been a problem for me, but recently, I decided to just throw away the conventionalities of writing and write those scenes out, regardless of where they fit into the storyline. I’m not forcing myself to stick to the storyline, and I’m giving myself the permission to write the scenes that my mind is more intrigued in first. Plus, they offer great markers for scenes. For example, if I write the climax scene for one chapter first, then I know that the rest of the chapter has to be filled with rising action and the conclusion, which then gets my brain thinking of different ways those scenes could play out.
2. Sketch your characters
One of the best ways that I find help me get my creativity flowing is sketching my characters. I like to use the online platform Artbreeder to help me create each character as I am not the best artist when it comes to hand-sketching, but the platform still does the trick for me. I find that when I sketch my characters, my brain is activated into thinking of dialogue, facial expressions, in-depth physical traits that I wouldn’t consider before, and by attaching a created image in my head to a somewhat physical image of what my character looks like, I can weave in more personality characteristics that are created when making that attachment. Plus, your brain is already in creative mode from having to imagine your character, so you cannot go wrong with this tip.
Sidenote: Artbreeder is free to use and this is not sponsored.
3. Focus on one scene at a time
This does echo the first tip in a lot of ways, but this tip is for any writer who likes to go in order with their stories. My advice is to try and not write the whole chapter, or poem, all at once, but to focus on each scene as you move along while managing to keep the bigger picture in the back of your mind. I find that jumping in and simply writing the whole chapter can be overwhelming at times, so by narrowing in and focusing on one scene at a time, the task becomes less daunting, and the odds of running into writer’s block are lessened because my mind is engaged with the different structures of the storyline, and it is also engaged with each stanza of the poem if that’s what you’re writing. My creative mind is focused on one thing, and not overwhelmed with the rest.
4. Write whatever comes to mind
I know some of you are probably asking what happens when you do all of this narrowing, and you’ve sketched out some characters, but yet nothing happens? I’ve experienced this myself, and while I acknowledge that you’ll find this type of advice on almost every website that suggests tips to cure your writer’s block, I swear this tip actually works. There has to be something in that creative, artistic brain of yours, so grab a sheet of paper, and a pen, and just write. I’ve heard some people call this method a “free-write,” and by allowing yourself to write whatever comes to your mind about the piece you’re working on, it gives you something to work with. It gives you a starting point. It gives you a possible new perspective, and it helps generate new ideas that were missed or overlooked before. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and the spelling can be absolutely horrendous, but it’s something to start with. And having something bad to work with is better than having nothing because you can always refine it later if you decide to keep it. If not, save it anyways because it just might provide something else for another scene later.
Another sidenote: I used this method for one of my English classes recently, and I ended up finding a new perspective regarding a topic for an essay. It really does work for any genre or style of writing!
5. Observe the world around you
So, what happens if you are really drawing a blank? You’ve tried everything, but yet absolutely nothing is coming to you and now writing feels like a chore. The best thing you can do in a situation like that is to shut your laptop, or close your notebook, and remove yourself from the writing process. Spend time with friends and pay attention to the conversation. Make note of funny things they say, quirks they have, hobbies they like, or phrases they constantly go to. Maybe dialogue for your characters will hit, or character personalities can be created by the people close to you. Take a mental note of how the light shines through the trees, or how the gravel sounds underneath your feet, or how chatter in a public place seems to grow louder whenever you try to talk to someone. By observing the world around you, creativity is bound to strike as there is a story everywhere you look. There is a scene, there is a setting, and there is inspiration everywhere you look.